Embrace the familiar: Plenty of old friends on hand this summer movie season
Summer is coming. Hollywood wants you to be happy. So it will fill the nation's movie theaters over the next few months with lots of old friends.
Generally speaking, summer is not a time for experimenting with film. It's a time dedicated to the familiar. Why? The familiar makes money, and to be blunt, Hollywood wants your money.
So next Friday, your old friends The Avengers will kick off the summer with "Age of Ultron." Last time they visited theaters they made over $1 billion worldwide. It sure will be nice to see them again.
Later on, their Marvel cousins, The Fantastic Four, will return to screens, albeit with completely new faces. But don't worry, they're still your friends.
Remember those fun-loving guys from HBO's "Entourage"? Now they have a movie! And those wacky a cappella girls from "Pitch Perfect" will be back, too (or "2"). The dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park"? They'll be biting their way through "Jurassic World," while another suburban family learns how to deal with a "Poltergeist."
It's been 30 years since Mad Max has visited theaters, but he's back in "Fury Road," with Tom Hardy taking over Mel Gibson's role. The foul-mouthed Teddy Bear from "Ted," the loveable male stripper from "Magic Mike," and Tom Cruise and the "Mission: Impossible" team: They're all back.
And let's not forget Mr. "I'll be back" himself: Your literally old friend Arnold Schwarzenegger returns once again as The Terminator. Some friends just never go away.
So please, give generously at the box office this summer movie season. That way Hollywood can bring you even more friends next year.
All dates are subject to change. Movies that have not been rated yet are marked (nyr).
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" (PG-13): James Spader voices a super-robot who threatens Life As We Know It. Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Captain America to the rescue.
"Adult Beginners" (R): A narcissistic entrepreneur (Nick Kroll) moves in with his pregnant sister (Rose Byrne) after he crashes and burns, becoming her nanny.
"Clouds of Sils Maria" (R ): Juliette Binoche plays a middle-aged actress returning to the play that made her famous, but playing the older role. Kristen Stewart plays her assistant.
"Hot Pursuit" (PG-13): Uptight cop Reese Witherspoon has to protect crime boss widow Sofia Vergara from assorted baddies on a Texas road trip. Directed by Detroit native Anne Fletcher.
"The D Train" (R): Perpetually uncool guy Jack Black tries to convince perpetually cool James Marsden to buddy up for a high school reunion.
"Far from the Madding Crowd" (PG-13): A Victorian Carey Mulligan has to choose between three very different suitors in this adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" (R ): Tom Hardy takes over the role originated by Mel Gibson and seeks to revive this post-apocalyptic franchise. With Charlize Theron. Expect lots of explosions, wild stunts.
"Pitch Perfect 2" (PG-13): Anna Kendrick rocked the first film about college a cappella misfits so hard they had to make a second one. Directed by co-star Elizabeth Banks.
"Tomorrowland" (PG): George Clooney and teen Britt Robertson team up to find a mysterious place called Tomorrowland. Directed by Brad Bird ("The Incredibles," "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol").
"Poltergeist" (PG-13): Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt try to breathe life back into this franchise about a family haunted by ghosts.
"San Andreas" (PG-13): When California finally gets socked by a major earthquake, ex-married couple Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino travel from LA to San Francisco to save their daughter.
"Love & Mercy" (PG-13): Paul Dano and John Cusack take turns playing younger and older Brian Wilson in this film about budding genius and a life gone astray. With Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti.
"Entourage" (R ): The long-running HBO show about a movie star (Adrian Grenier) and his bros makes the jump to the big screen. Now Ari (Jeremy Piven) is running a movie studio!
"Insidious: Chapter 3" (PG-13): A gifted psychic (Lin Shaye) agrees to help a girl who's being terrorized by something supernatural.
"Spy" (R ): A CIA analyst (Melissa McCarthy) goes undercover when agents go missing. With Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham.
"Jurassic World" (nyr): Dinosaurs. Really big dinosaurs. With really big teeth. That's what you can expect from this sequel, along with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (PG-13): This Sundance hit stars Thomas Mann as an awkward high schooler forced by his mom to speak to a classmate because she has cancer.
"Inside Out" (PG): The latest from Pixar goes inside the mind of a young girl who's just moved from the Midwest to San Francisco and follows her emotions, voiced by Bill Hader, Louis Black, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling.
"Dope" (nyr): Another Sundance hit, this one follows a young man (Shameik Moore) who gets invited to a cool party that may transform him from being geeky to being "dope."
"Big Game" (PG-13): A Finnish boy spending time in the wild comes upon Air Force One's escape pod and has to help the United States president (Samuel L. Jackson) escape from would-be kidnappers.
"Max" (PG): A young boy bonds with the dog who was his fallen brother's companion in the war in Afghanistan.
"Ted 2" (R ): Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane return in the sequel to the highest grossing (and gross is the word) comedy ever, the saga of a potty-mouthed Teddy Bear.
"Batkid Begins" (nyr): This documentary follows how a charity made one 5-year-old's wish come true, and how the "good news" report became a national phenom.
"Magic Mike XXL" (R): Channing Tatum returns (but director Steven Soderbergh doesn't) to continue the male stripper story, which this time revolves around one last grand reunion show.
"Terminator: Genisys" (nyr): Schwarzenegger returns again in this latest wrinkle in the once-proud franchise, which takes place in some sort of alternate reality '80s.
"Minions" (PG): The little yellow guys get their own movie, which traces their history working for evil bosses over the centuries and then puts them in the employ of one Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock).
"The Bronze" (nyr): A foul-mouthed former Olympic gymnast (Melissa Rauch) finds her local celebrity threatened by an up-and-coming athlete.
"The Gallows" (nyr): Twenty years after a tragic high school theater production, students try to stage the play again. Oops. Stars Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Kathie Lee and Frank!
"Self/Less" (PG-13): An older man (Ben Kingsley) dying of cancer has his consciousness transferred into the body of a healthy younger man (Ryan Reynolds). Not surprisingly, complications ensue.
"Ant-Man" (nyr): OK, he gets tiny, but his strength increases. So what? Couldn't a bad guy just step on him. No matter, here comes the latest Marvel hero. Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly.
"Mr. Holmes" (nyr): Ian McKellen plays the sleuth in the twilight of his years, retired and keeping bees, but still at work on one last mystery.
"Trainwreck" (R): Judd Apatow directs Amy Schumer in a film she wrote about a girl raised to believe monogamy is unrealistic. Then she falls in love. Look out world, Schumer's on the move.
"Pixels" (nyr): This summer's Adam Sandler movie, in which aliens attack earth while emulating classic video games. Sandler leads the gamers that fight back. With Kevin James, Peter Dinklage (!) and Michelle Monaghan.
"Paper Towns" (nyr): Adapted from the John Green novel, a teen boy (Nat Wolff) tries to solve the mystery of where his neighbor, Margo (Cara Delevingne), disappeared to.
"Southpaw" (nyr): Jake Gyllenhaal plays a boxer who fights his way to the top, only to find his life coming apart. Directed by Antone Fuqua, written by Kurt Sutter.
"The Gift" (nyr): Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall are a couple whose life is disrupted when he meets an old acquaintance from high school (director Joel Edgerton).
"Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation" (nyr): Tom Cruise and cohorts return, this time trying to eradicate a team of agents as skilled as they are.
"Vacation" (nyr): The next generation of Griswolds, led by Ed Helms and Christina Applegate, take the inevitable vacation to Walley World.
"Fantastic Four" (nyr): The Marvel franchise gets a reboot as Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Michael B. Jordan (The Human Torch), Jamie Bell (The Thing) and Kate Mara (The Invisible Woman) sign on.
"Ricki and The Flash" (nyr): Meryl Streep plays an aging rock guitarist who tries to reconnect with her family. Written by Diablo Cody ("Juno"), directed by Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs").
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (PG-13): Another summer weekend, another reboot. This time it's big screen adaptation of the '60s spy show, with Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill playing the good spies.
"Masterminds" (nyr): Zach Galifianakis plays a harmless guy who's lured by Kristen Wiig into a heist job being planned by halfwit Owen Wilson. Somehow Jason Sudeikis gets involved as a hitman.
"Straight Outta Compton" (nyr): This biopic follows the impact of the rap group N.W.A. in the 1980s. Starring O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.
"Underdogs" (nyr): An animated film in which the players on a Foosball table come to life to do battle with a bully.
"Criminal" (nyr): The memories and talents of a deceased spy are put into the body of an unstable convict (what could go wrong?). Starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Alice Eve and Gary Oldman.
"Sinister 2" (nyr): A protective mother (Shannon Sossamon) and her twin sons find themselves living in a possessed house. How does this keep happening?
"Z for Zachariah" (nyr): Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor find themselves in a romantic triangle with Margot Robbie in a post-apocalyptic world.
"Before We Go" (PG-13): Chris Evans and Alice Eve meet at Grand Central Station and head off for an evening of adventure in New York City.
"Hitman: Agent 47" (nyr): Rupert Friend stars as a genetically engineered hitman who's been trained to kill since birth. Also with Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto and Ciaran Hinds.
"Regression" (nyr): Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson star in the story of a father who's accused of a crime he has no memory of committing.
"War Room" (PG): A faith-driven film in which a daughter tries to save her parents' crumbling, strife-ridden marriage.